by Mike Ratliff
6 “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go.
My heart does not reproach any of my days.
7 “May my enemy be as the wicked
And my opponent as the unjust.
8 “For what is the hope of the godless when he is cut off,
When God requires his life?
9 “Will God hear his cry
When distress comes upon him?
10 “Will he take delight in the Almighty?
Will he call on God at all times? Job 27:6-10 (NASB)
One of the easiest accusations that Christians can hurl at one another is the epitaph “Hypocrite!” I probably receive at least half a dozen emails or comments a week with that accusation firmly pointed at me. What is a hypocrite? A hypocrite may be a very neat imitation of a Christian. He professes to know God, to converse with him, to be dedicated to his service, and to invoke his protection: he even practices prayer, or at least feigns it. Yet the cleverest counterfeit fails somewhere, and may be discovered by certain signs. The test is here: “Will he call upon God at all times?”
Will he or she pray at all seasons of prayer? What about praying in private? The hypocrite is one who is dependent upon the human eye, and the applause of men. I remember once being looked down upon by my pastor and a few of the deacons at a former church because my public prayers were short and sweet and simple. It was as if the standard was to be public and be able to pray beautifully in front of a lot of people. That isn’t me my brethren. I pray privately and in that I know that God doesn’t care how much I stumble around and change course.
The hypocrite will stop praying if forbidden unlike Daniel who prayed to God even though it was against the law. Also, since in his or her hypocrisy the goal is to be seen praying by Christians, they don’t pray about things such as their daily work. They don’t offer sentence prayers for help and guidance throughout the day. Why do that since that would not be noticed by anyone? What about in those times when all is going well? Will the hypocrite pray then? Will he or she have a holy fear of offending with the tongue? What about when in the company of those who make one forget God? Will he or she pray in darkness of soul or will they sulk in silence?
The hypocrite does not pray constantly as we are commanded in scripture. Why? The hypocrite does not possess the spirit of prayer which never ceases to plead with the Lord. We are commanded to pray continually because we are always dependent for life, both temporal and spiritual, upon God. Also, it is in genuine soul searching prayer that Christians really live as they should. We are always in need of God’s provision. When we perceive that that isn’t so then our foolishness and hypocrisy is revealed. This must become the target of our repentance. We are always on the receiving end of God’s blessing and provision. We must pray continually about that so we can be wise in the use of His blessings.
Even though most Christians in the USA will scoff at this, we are always in danger, both physical and spiritual dangers threaten us every day. However, the closer we draw to God the more will understand that only God can cover us and we desperately need this. I often wonder at the foolishness of professing Christians who only wade in the shallow end of God’s pool of grace while consuming large quantities of the things of this world, polluting their minds with secular entertainment and distractions. They do this with no thought of what is happening to their walk with God down the narrow path which leads to life. No, we are always in danger of becoming hypocritical in our walk so we desperately need to live intentionally in prayer and submission to the Lordship of Christ instead of seeking to feed our flesh.
Without the spiritual nourishment of daily time in God’s Word and in secret prayer we will be always weak, inclined to evil, apt to catch every infection of soul-sickness, and “ready to perish” (Isaiah 27:13). My brethren if you have been pondering the colossal fleshly conquering of the visible church in our time then consider that the real reason is this deliberate starving of the body by feeding it only imitations of what is going on in the world. The crop they are raising up in their churches is nothing but a bunch of fleshly hypocrites who are biblically illiterate and helpless in prayer.
This type of church and walk focus ignores the fact that we are always needing spiritual strength because we must be equipped for the suffering. We must be taught how to learn God’s truth. We must learn to worship God in spirit and truth and how to serve Him. We must pray for these things constantly. The hypocrite doesn’t do this and so has no ability to do any of these things.
Another aspect of how deep hypocrisy is in the visible church is its utter disregard for the ugliness and tragedy of sin running rampant amongst the body. The Christian must recognize that without the helping hand of God by His grace we will be always sinning. This contaminates even our service. It defiles us and we need constant washing. Therefore, let us seek the Lord in prayer as much as we can, offering up praise and thanksgiving while imploring Him for wisdom, discernment, and direction.
We also need the strength that comes to us from God as we pray because of being weighted with other people’s needs. This will be true for all who are perceived to be God’s servant. The requests are continual because the needs are constant. Therefore, let us pray and have the cause of God near our hearts at all times. When we become self-focused and bitter then we don’t pray as we ought. This causes us to draw away from God and that isn’t good. Let us repent of this.
Hypocrisy is revealed in those who do not persevere. When the answer from God does not come in a “timely” manner then they quit. Perhaps God is withholding an answer in order to teach us eternal truth. We are commanded to never cease praying and hypocrisy is revealed in those who “give up.” What about receiving an answer from God, but it isn’t what one desires? The hypocrite will become bitter and quit, but the genuine believer will plead on. We become spiritually pliable in the hands of God when we learn to wrestle with Him in prayer. It may even come to the point that everyone else has ceased to pray about something. The hypocrite will be in that group, but the genuine prayer warrior will be singular, and plead against wind and tide. We must never forget that God will often answer prayer in such a way that will disappoint and appear to defeat us and the hypocrite will cease praying at this point and draw even further away from God, but we must learn that delays are not denials, and we must still pray.
Consistent and continual prayer over one’s life is the mark of a genuine disciple of Christ. On the other hand, the hypocrite soon gives up prayer under certain circumstances. He or she will not pray if there is trouble brewing. Instead they will run to human helpers. If it looks like they have escaped the trouble they will still not pray, but will will forget their vows. If they become open to scorn for being seen praying then they will not dare pray.
My brethren, let us not be like that. Instead, let us repent of making light of our desperate need for spending time in prayer with our God. We are commanded to do it by Him because He knows we need it. Without it we will become secularly focused with our flesh in control. Our pride will run rampant in an attempt to come between us and that close intimate, humble, relationship with the living God. If that happens, and it does to all of us at times, then the only resolution is to spend time in repentant prayer while taking the time to pray continually throughout each day. If we will combine that with secret, intimate, and heart revealing prayer with God each day then we will grow spiritually.
I do wonder at Christians who take all of this lightly and then encounter another believer who is walking close with God. Their response to that is very telling. They “assume” that that other person is simply trying harder than they are and is just excited about their walk. This assumption also believes that reality will set in and all of that “excitement” will wear off eventually. Well, it will if it is done hypocritically, but the genuine disciple of Christ who has drawn near unto God and has learned to pray continually, even though not perfect, will be maturing in Christ. They are living sacrifices who are having their minds renewed, transforming them unto disciples whom God uses. Let us pursue this my brethren.
Soli Deo Gloria